Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The invitation

                                                                        {still hazy}

It's a long story so I'll try to cut it down.  A very few of you may remember when I read the book below.  I was introduced to this blog by a kind friend.  I've been reading what she writes for years.

I had kept it all fairly close in, until Clair (pictured above) seemed interested. Occasionally someone walks into my life, takes an idea and runs with it along side of me.  Clair snatched it up, bolted with it and never looked back.  I had to sprint to catch up with her.

Conversation led to action and we took a road trip.  The goal, to hear Karen Maezen Miller speak and give us some instruction on meditation. Of all things.

I  picked Clair up early.  The idea was to have plenty of time for coffee and a bagel before we arrived. We were only traveling from the Richmond, VA area to Washington D.C., typically a two-hour drive, but instead got lost.  I don't mean once, or a little lost, I mean turned around, loop-de-looped, every-which-wayed, back-tracked, wrong-turned, countless times kind of lost. Monumentally lost. Detoured by a huge footrace with roads closed kind of lost. It was the perfect beginning.

Were I not nauseatingly persistant (and a little lucky with my phone) we might not have made it.  If Clair weren't so patient with such a good sense of humor I might have left her on the side of the road. I may have referred to myself as flaky once or twice.  I was pretty sure she'd never agree to a road trip with me again.

Perhaps getting turned around just gave us more time for conversation.  Perhaps that was why we got lost in the first place.

"Clair," I said at one point, "you're Catholic."


"Not a little bit Catholic, you're really Catholic. How do you reconcile going to hear a Zen Buddhist priest teach us how to meditate with Catholicism?"

"I don't put God in a box," she said, "he's bigger than any of our boxes."

And with that the trip could have ended for me even if we hadn't ever found the place.

I believe I described my upbringing among other things as icy, cold and "severely Lutheran". And there we were. The very Catholic and (former) severely Lutheran lost in a tangled mess of highway in search of something neither of us could define.

 We found the studio. Hazy. We walked in.

My butt landed right where it was supposed to be.

The two hour session began.  Clair was immediately in.  Open-armed, open-eyed, open-hearted, enthralled.  I was my usual self, closed, protective, quiet, skeptical, trusting on a very delayed schedule.  Uncomfortable in my skin.

I'm not sure what happened next.

Really, it's a blur.  A soothing, calming, gentle wave of warm ocean kind of blur washed over me.  Profound concepts filled the space.  Acceptance too.  The sameness that unites us all was palpable in the room.  I was no longer the "poor miserable sinner" of my upbringing begging for mercy and forgiveness never really feeling worthy of receiving it.  There was no room for self-flaggelation, harsh words, condemnation.  Refreshing doesn't come close to describing the feeling.  Karen describes it as the sensation of coming home.  Perhaps she's on to something.

We left wanting more.

Clair wanted an autograph.

                                                  {I really like you I think you're so great!}

                                              {that's your cell phone number? sweet!}

This is where the rest begins.  We plan to see this thing through.  To sit each day.  To practice regularly what we've only begun to discover.  We'll sit alone, we'll sit together, we'll try the local scene and see what happens.  We'll drink tea and hairy chested coffee and I'll make her slack line with me afterward.  We'll sit in the open country air by the soybean fields at my house with the chickens and roosters roaming.  We'll post, we'll share our experience, you're all invited to bear witness, to join in, both.  Won't you?


Anonymous said...

Count me in.

ShutUpandRun said...

My dear friend, Clair, shared this with me. I am jealous and thrilled all at once that you and she had this most amazing experience together. May you continue to find that kind of peace and to realize that sometimes being lost is the best way to be found!!

Julie said...

Count me in too! The universe just works in mysterious ways, no? I recently discovered Karen Maezen Miller myself, when I read Momma Zen (and I've been giving it to mom friends left and right). I also just days ago decided to commit to a meditation practice in hopes of finding an oasis of calm the chaos of life with two toddlers and a traveling husband.

Already love your writing...its simplicity and beauty is wonderful and refreshing. Came to your blog this morning via Karen Maezen Miller's facepost post to your friend Clair's blog and then, you know, away I go clicking links. And here I am.

One last little coincidence. Until 6 months ago I also lived in the hilly folds of central Virginia, near Charlottesville. We relocated to the high desert of northern Nevada and now I'm surrounded by brown hills and just over the way is Lake Tahoe. I do miss Virginia, but this is awesome too.

I think this has become more than long enough and my sweet babe is calling to get out of his crib.

I'll be back!


amy said...

Julie--the longer I'm around the more I think life's little coincidences are really a roadmap intentionally left for us to follow. I'm so glad your clicks led you here! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

Florence Brooks said...

Just checking in with you and loving you lots : ) Much peace to you and your family this Christmas.